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Educational Awareness Campaign Emphasizes Prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Posted on September 21, 2022

Johnstown, PA (Sept. 19, 2022) – Up to 1 in 20 school-aged children in the United States may have problems with memory, attention span, intellectual disabilities, impulse control, and impaired vision, hearing, and other physical issues related to alcohol use before they were born. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders or FASD is an umbrella term for more than 120 identified signs and symptoms in newborns, children, adolescents, and adults linked to a mother’s use of alcohol while pregnant.

Cambria County Drug & Alcohol Program and The Learning Lamp are teaming up to spread the word about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) during the month of September—FASD Awareness Month. Although the effects of prenatal alcohol use on some children can range from mild to severe and last a lifetime, FASDs—unlike many other birth defects—are 100% preventable.

“Because the baby’s brain, body and organs are developing throughout the entire pregnancy, alcohol use by the mom can affect normal growth and development of the fetus at any time,” explained Marlene Singer, RN, FASD program coordinator at The Learning Lamp. That’s why the CDC recommends that women who are pregnant or might be pregnant not drink alcohol of any type or any amount.

As part of the awareness campaign, The Learning Lamp is providing FREE presentations for organizations that work with women of child-bearing age, as well as agencies and schools that may encounter children with symptoms associated with FASDs. Presentations outline how and when alcohol alters brain and organ development and the resulting issues that can impact a child’s learning and behavior. The presentations also equip teachers, child care staff, and human services professionals with strategies and resources that can help children with FASDs succeed. Classroom-based prevention education programs are also easily plugged into high school health curricula and in 2021-22 successfully increased more than 200 teens’ knowledge on a subject and risks that they admittedly knew little or nothing about.

“Remember, FASDs are 100% preventable,” stressed Singer. “So our number one goal is to educate women on the facts about alcohol use before they decide to start a family so they have a healthy pregnancy from the start, including delivery of a healthy baby.”

In addition to in-person presentations, The Learning Lamp and Cambria County Drug & Alcohol Program produced a series of 5-minute videos to help pregnant women understand the role not only alcohol plays in fetal development but also how nicotine through smoking or vaping and marijuana use can impact mother and baby as well.

The Pregnancy & Substance Use education series can be found on The Learning Lamp’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/TheLearningLamp. Post cards and flyers with scannable QR codes are being distributed in collaboration with community partners to promote easy access to the videos.

To schedule a presentation or request promotional materials to share the vides series with women and families served by your organization, call Lisa at 814-262-0732 x249 or email lstofko@thelearninglamp.org.

The Learning Lamp is a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage all children in the support they need to succeed. We deliver high quality programs that are affordable and accessible to families of all income levels. In 2021, The Learning Lamp served 28,160 youth/adults from 51 school districts and 69 other schools and organizations in 19 Pennsylvania counties. Our programs include: child care and preschool, after school programs, tutoring, SAT prep, online learning, credit recovery, alternative education and specialized classrooms for at-risk students, trauma support groups for children/families, temporary staffing, and grant writing and project consulting for schools.


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